It’s hard with these social media stars, you think you have an idea about who they are, or maybe even who you think you want them to be…and then you meet them. I sat down with Caroline Vreeland, songstress, social media phenom, fashion maven, campaign face, actress, sister, lover, friend and great granddaughter of fifty-year career editrix, Diana Vreeland and learned a thing or two about the girl behind the brand and how the beguiling multi-hyphenate plans to trek the path to dream chasing, all the days of her life. The interesting thing about Vreeland, I quickly came to learn, is that she makes no pretenses. She’s unapologetically herself and honest about the parts of who that is that she hasn’t quite figured out [yet]. We met on a muggy, Miami afternoon on the terrace of a restaurant just off of Brickell Avenue–a spot gently nestled between Baby Jane and Sidebar Miami which happen to be the restaurant and bars owned by Vreeland-beau and Miami-based restauranteur, Jason Odio, but also the scene of the party she hosted the evening prior in honor of Pride weekend; and with glittering remnants of last night’s purple eye shadow rimming her big, blue doe eyes, we got acquainted.
Now, for those of you who subscribe to an Instagram-length methodology for the acquisition of information, I’ll let you in on the CliffsNotes: I asked her what she hoped readers would take away from this piece, “I think what I want people to take away is that I’ve done some really incredible things; and I have been able to be a part of really cool stuff; and I know who I am; and I know what I want to do, but I have no fucking idea what the path is going to look like.” If you read on you’ll come to find out that the road has winded somewhat for our heroine and that great opportunities and serendipitous happenings coupled with a lot of hard work, have shifted some of the positioning on her timeline: “I don’t want people to think [that] I have this totally put-together, figured out life, because I totally don’t know how it’s going to come to be; but I love myself and I trust myself and I’m passionate about what I love and, so, I think it’s gonna work out and I’m excited to share that with people: the good and the bad. It would be important to me for people to know that I’m just still trying to figure it out; but I’m lucky enough that I have a voice, literally, and I’m able to share my journey.”
She’s really so humble. And real. You kind of get that from her Insta videos, especially the ones where she’s downing a hamburger that’s just large enough to straddle the line between gross and grossly summoning and messy to the same degree. Most chicks don’t do that. Something to do with disturbing the equilibrium between lip and gloss. But she does. And the buck doesn’t stop at burgers. We’ve all seen the #carocarboload hashtag that accompanies the carbohydrate-laden posts where the svelte California girl–no she doesn’t work out–ingests gluten like it’s going out of style. I asked her if that was exaggerated for entertainment value. It’s not. “With social media now there’s such insight into what engages people and you can literally get those statistics about what people respond to, I have found that the things that I have amplified about my personality work but I don’t do things that I wouldn’t normally do.” “I think the reason people respond to it,” she continues, “is because they can tell that it’s genuinely who I am…of course I know how to amp things up–I’m very flamboyant and over-the-top so it’s a normal thing for me to just film everything I’m doing. Like if I’m taking a big bite of a messy burger, I want to show that…people don’t love themselves, they don’t love who they are and that’s part of why I’m always trying to show my imperfections. This morning when I woke up, the first thing that crossed my mind was: ‘I know my purple eyeshadow doesn’t translate to the day and I definitely slept with it on, so the first thing I need to do is take a picture of how it’s not cute in the morning just to prove that it could be funny to laugh at yourself.'” She acknowledges that just because she matter-of-factly promotes having a giggle at one’s own expense does not mean that she thinks it’s an easy place to get to. In fact, Vreeland is very grateful to have arrived at a place in her life where knows who she is and cherishes it. “I don’t know how I’ve come to terms with it and I don’t know what in my life has made me embrace myself, but I like the things that make me weird and different and I think that’s what I find interesting in other people and I always try to tell them that.” We find parallels in that truth to her great grandmother, Diana Vreeland, who over her illustrious career as fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and as editor-in-chief of Vogue became quite well known for her ability to highlight the idiosyncrasies that she felt made someone most beautiful. “My great grandmother was the same way,” CV explains; “she saw Barbra Streisand’s nose as the most interesting part of her face and she would put her profile on the cover like, ‘We wanna see the nose!’ and I [also] just love things that make people unique and maybe that’s because of her.”
We had just shot a few days prior for this cover of Toys for Boys magazine. The selection of Caroline Vreeland for our female cover was a careful one and one that meant a lot to our team. As such, we were thoughtful about the way in which we chose to portray her. For this issue, we decided to shoot Vreeland in creative director Camilo Rio’s best rendition of a mermaid–a conceptual siren whose voice and come hither stare could raise mountains or sink ships. We believe in the power of Vreeland. Clearly, we are not the only ones. The 29 year old has just found out that she will be coming back to the boob tube for season two of Star–the American musical drama television series on which she appeared in its first season singing original tracks produced by their award-winning team. “I already know of one song that I’ll be recording for season two and hopefully there will be more because that was really my favorite part; aside from being able to learn about acting alongside such big names and Queen Latifah and Benjamjin Bratt, obviously the most important part of it for me was the recording. This song is going to be a ballad which is great because I tend to prefer the darker stuff and most ballads have a darker context…” Her appreciation for “the darker stuff” can be attributed to another big name person who has played a major role in her life: Fiona Apple. “I would say that I gravitate to darker context and more moody kind of styles because of her–I was so in love with her; I want to have anybody care about me musically as much as I cared about her.”
While Vreeland has put her personal recording on hold for now as the show has been such an honor for her to participate in, she promises to have something for us in the near future. And dark in context it seems it’ll be. The EP, which she hopes to start recording once she’s through filming, will be a Blues album: “I have been through so many phases musically and it’s funny to talk about it because none of it has come out, but I’m glad about it because that wasn’t my voice yet. I thought it was for a long time. I literally did so many sounds and none of it was right, so I’m actually glad that those things didn’t come out to set a precedence of what I want my tone to be.” Vreeland finds herself in a unique position in this aspect of her professional life. While she’s got teams to aid in so many of her other projects, on this one she has complete control given her unique position of not being signed to any label. As of yet the hot songstress has no representation for music and plans to stay independent as long as she can. The choice for this kind of freedom is in direct relation to just how important and intense it is for her. She’s been singing and writing for 20 years now and the way in which she becomes devoured by the process seems engulfing: “It’s funny because for me music has always come in waves–for the project that I wrote in 2012 I didn’t leave the studio for two years working on it; but then there would be a time where I just couldn’t fucking write or even think about it and then I would be head over heels, in it again. That’s kind of how it’s always been for me; while music has always been at the core of what I love, I go through phases where I need a break because it’s too intense.”
Luckily, in those times of intense musical tension, Vreeland has a list of interested parties lined up to work with her on projects in other realms; primarily, fashion. CV has just shot two campaigns with shoe giant, Steve Madden, one of which has just launched. And while the other is forthcoming, there’s other news to be learnt of this partnership: Vreeland and Madden will be collaborating on a collection of footwear with her signature stamp of sass. “I’ve never been able to put out a project with any brand yet,” she explains, “and it’s really great that it’s with a brand like Steve Madden where young women who are interested in my life and follow what I’m doing can actually afford to buy it–it’s going to be so cool…it’s a really exciting prospect.” Cool it is. And apparently so is Steve, whom Vreeland liked to an adult male version of herself. “I had a meeting in their New York office and within ten minutes we were rolling on the floor laughing–he is a sweetie and has the best sense of humor…we ask each other for advice…I didn’t expect to have such a great connection with him but I think since we had that first meeting, we just knew we wanted to work together.” There’s something to be said about that kind of chemistry where you just know someone is the right fit for you. With music, it’s a vibe Vreeland has had to hone in on–band synergy is a marriage like none other. Perhaps that’s why she’s so great and finding the appropriate next projects for herself whether through brand collaborations or on separate ventures like the one she hopes to embark on with gal pal, Shea Marie of @peaceloveshea Instagram fame. “Shea and I have been meeting and talking about starting something together and we think it’s perfect because she is my exact opposite in so many ways–she is up at 6am with her super strong work ethic and I’m the one who can schmooze and get in with people intimately, so we’re good together. I’m excited. And while it is scary to start a business with a friend, we are really looking forward to it. Plus, we have a lot of friends in the fashion world like the girls who do Cushnie et Ochs and they’ve told us that as long as the roles are clearly defined and each person knows what they’re held accountable for that it can be really fruitful.”
On the subject of bearing fruit, we circle back to this Blues EP and dig a little deeper as to what the process promises to look like and if we should expect to catch a glimpse ahead of time. It seems that Vreeland is hoping to attack this particular project from the privacy of a Tuscan villa and, depending on her level of will power, we may not real-time witness it. “A friend of mine has a recording studio in Tuscany and he’s invited me begging me to come check it out. Basically, what they’re doing over there is really amazing: it’s like the Chelsea Hotel of Tuscany–they allow artists to come and work and live in the space and share what they’re doing with the other artists. It creates this feeling of community which is what really makes me most excited. Benjamin Clementine did his album there; Francis and the Lights as well…so I think I would love to go dark on social media whenever I decide to head out there; it will be hard for me to be in Tuscany singing and not filming every second of it because it’s become second nature for me, but I think it will be good for me and for the music so when I come back with the music there will be a lot to say and it will be more poignant. It’s not a strategy so much as that I want to see if I can do it for myself, just to get back to the music and focus on that. Really, the sickness is that unless I have documented what I’m doing, I feel like it was a bust and that’s the mindset I want to get out of–I don’t want to be defined by that because that’s not who I am. It’s just that I love sharing aspects of my life because I’m an open book, but it would be nice to disconnect and work and not share it until it’s done and then I’ll have a lot of stock photos; I’ll be ready.
Somewhere between filming Star in Atlanta and recording in Tuscany; attending European fashion weeks and visiting the boyfriend in Miami, Vreeland calls Los Angeles home. Namely, Silver Lake, which she says after nine years in the City of Angels finally made her feel settled. It’s the people she credits–the painters, artists and authors taking up residence in and near Silver Lake nourish her innate desire to be surrounded by burgeoning talent. “I could be the Peggy Guggenheim of Silver Lake,” she explains, “It’s funny because my cousin Lisa who did the film: ‘The Eye Has To Travel,’ the Diana Vreeland documentary also did ‘Art Addict,’ the Peggy Guggenheim film…I hadn’t really known anything about Peggy before, like I didn’t know she was married to Max Ernst. I didn’t know she was getting laid by like every artist. She was like killing it,” she giggled. “Not in that I’m sleeping with any artists, but I realized that, like her, I only wanted to surround myself with that kind of creative community and that’s why I really fell in love with that area.” We talk a bit about who those players are in her personal life and she rattles off a list of impressive talents whom she feels honored to know: “There’s this girl Austyn [Weiner] who’s great and I had the pleasure of having her draw me; she’s actually from Miami. She does these positions that look very Keith Haring. She’s very interesting to me; I can’t wait to see what she does…and it’s like that with all the cool artists or designers I’ve met. People ask me all the time, what designers I like to wear and really, I want to wear the work of the people that I know well, like my friend Guiliano from GCDS, I just know he’s gonna be the next Tom Ford–he does street wear and I’m so impressed by him as a person that I even asked him if he would manage me because I so trust his aesthetic. He’s definitely one to watch. And so I just want to gather these people around me and all come up together. Like Peggy. She was such a boss; she saw all this talent and she just kept it around her–she had the eye.”
Peggy may have had the eye, but Caro’s got the voice. And the charm. And while we wait with bated breath for that Blues album to drop, we leave you with some mouth dropping photos of her baby blues. Enjoy!